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Rancid Popcorn » Obits

Category: Obits

Painting With Light: RIP, Jack Cardiff

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Jack Cardiff has died at 94.

I think Technicolor is one of the great aesthetic accomplishments of the twentieth century, and no one photographed more striking examples of it than Jack Cardiff. He served as cinematographer on all kinds of stuff, and plenty of it black and white. I am, however, obviously a Powell/Pressburger enthusiast, and so revere him most of all for the holy triumvirate of A Matter Of Life And Death/Black Narcisssus/Red Shoes. His most famous work was probably African Queen, and he makes a problematic film, Pandora And The Flying Dutchman, something of a must-see.

He directed some too. I know Sons And Lovers has plenty of admirers, but I’ve never seen it. I have seen Girl On A Motorcycle however, and let’s just say it’s less than great, and makes one appreciate Cardiff the cinematographer all the more.

I don’t know a lick about photography, but I know what I like. I know Cardiff’s contributions to those British Technicolor flights of fancy have more than a little to do with why I love movies, rather than just like them. I have tremendous respect for him, and his passing is a big deal in my personal headful of film.

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Be Seeing You, Number Six

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Patrick McGoohan, star, writer, director, progenitor, auteur, dammit of the classic series The Prisoner died today at age 80. Although that series will inevitably be the locus of the discussion of his career, I’d like to take a moment to consider one of his films, one that shows what a broad talent McGoohan was.

The film is All Night Long, 1961, directed by Basil Dearden. The story is an updating of Othello (no Shakespearean dialogue), regarding a black London jazzman and his white singer wife. McGoohan plays their ambitious drummer, Johnny Cousin,the Iago character. The film is/was notable in jazz circles for the appearance and performances of quite a few jazzmen of the time, some giants – Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Johnny Dankworth.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Charles Mingus. The thing that startled me is that McGoohan played the drums himself for this. He manages to convince that he belongs with these people.

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This is a 2 or 3 minute solo. Now, maybe the soundtrack was actually done a second time in post, but either way I think he’s really doing this. Impressed, I am.

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Godspeed, Pat. Thanks for everything.

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